POTSDAM -- In 2009, for the second straight year, the Clarkson University Men’s Soccer team raced out to five victories and an impressive tie through its first eight games of the season, gaining a regional ranking in the process.
Unfortunately, the Golden Knights’ conclusions to those two years didn’t match the fast starts. Whether the Green and Gold get off to another quick start in 2010 is irrelevant; what the team hopes for is a strong finish, one that includes a trip to the Liberty League Playoffs and beyond.
Guided by second-year head coach Nick Hillary and assistant coach Ian Fairlie, the Golden Knights have possessed talented, but youthful rosters in the past few years. This season the team is loaded with upperclassmen, including seven seniors, who are ready to take the next step forward and reach the conference championships.
Despite a less than titillating 0-5-2 record in conference (5-8-3 overall), the Knights found themselves in most of the league games in 2009.
Only two of the games were decided by more than a single goal and two of the closest games of the season, an overtime loss to Hobart and a double overtime tie against Rensselaer, were against nationally-ranked foes.
Leading the way is senior and three-year captain Scott Desmond (Enfield, Conn.). The team’s active scoring leader with 26 career points on 9 goals and 8 assists, the three-time Liberty League All-Star and former conference Rookie of the Year was one of three players with four assists last season.
As a standout in the midfield, Desmond was often looked to for scoring punch in years past, but this year the Knights have enough depth in the midfield and from the striker position to create fits for the opposition’s defense.
Classmates Mark Secko (Shoreham), Christopher Bates (Schenectady), and Andrew Ensinger (Rochester) are three solid offensive targets as well. Secko, a Liberty League All-Star in his first year at Clarkson, led the team with 14 points (6 goals, 2 assists), and took more shots than any other player on the team. Bates has played in 33 games with six starts in his three previous seasons and is more than prepared to take on a larger role as a senior, while Ensinger has scored four goals and three assists in the last two seasons.
Clarkson’s depth up front certainly doesn’t end at its four senior forwards. Junior Brian Buckner (Farmington) is a highly skilled player who has always proven to be valuable off the bench, scoring three goals in 2009.
Classmate Elliott Carter (Ottawa, Ont.) is an outstanding playmaker who joined Desmond in the team lead with four assists, and lanky junior Tobin Boomer (Louisville, Ky.) has speed and size on his side for making great runs down the sideline and supplying an excellent target on corner kicks.
Joining the upperclassmen as strikers are sophomores Vittorio Partesano (Glastonbury, Conn.) and Bryan Malone (Tully), as well as freshman Cody Sargood (Pittstown). Partesano scored a goal in his first career game last year, and is looking for more in his second season, while Malone is one of the most improved players on the squad. Sargood has excellent flank speed and reads the game very well with a good cross off the ball.
Anchoring the midfield, along with Ensinger, are juniors David Maiorino (Holbrook), Jon Gacioch (Palmyra) and junior transfer Daena Moulton (King City, Ont).
Maiorino saw his first extended time in college last season and made the most of it, depositing one ball in the back of the net along with a team-best four assists. Gacioch participated in seven games after missing his first season, and he is ready to take on a larger role in 2010. Moulton transferred from St. Lawrence University, and after just a few weeks of preseason, he seems acclimated to Clarkson’s style of play.
Sophomore Eric Wright (Rochester) played two games last season, and will miss the first handful of games in 2010 due to injury, but he, along with Malone, is vastly improved. Freshmen Kurt Knolle (East Aurora), Angelo DiFrancesco (Penfield), Nick Smith (Plaistow, NH), Graziano Spagnolo (Ottawa, Ont.), and Jacob Duff (Lebanon, Conn.) mark an outstanding incoming class of midfielders. All possess enviable offensive abilities with plenty of technical skill that will allow them to adapt quickly to the collegiate game.
Veteran leadership will be a key for the defensive stoppers in back as seniors Brett Laudermilch (Lebanon, Penn.), a tri-captain, Jeremy Toscano (Brockport), and Justin White (Dewitt) lead the way. All three have been major contributors to the program over the last three seasons and will provide a steadying, controlled influence in case of opponents’ attacks.
Junior Matt Konecnik (Waterford), the team’s other tri-captain, and classmate Todd Coleman (Vestal) are two more players that have ample field time under their belts and can handle any type of pressure thrown at them. Junior transfer Steven Davis (Otego) formerly played at Oneonta State, having played 29 games with the strong program, and his ability will put him on the field regularly. Finally, Sam Abate (North Tonawanda) and Tyler Rodrigues (Flemington, NJ), a pair of freshmen, will apprentice under the veterans and will see their share of playing time as well.
As the last line of defense, a trio of sophomore goalkeepers split time in their first collegiate seasons in 2009, and the competition for playing time has pushed their skill level to impressive heights. Scott Stuart (Ottawa, Ont.) saw the most time of the three, playing 651 minutes in goal for the Knights, compiling 33 saves and two shutouts while sporting a 0.69 goals against average. Adam Lamoureux (Falmouth, Maine) received the most starts (7) and played nearly 500 minutes in net, posting two shutouts himself with 30 saves overall. Saverino Spagnolo (Ottawa, Ont.), the older brother of freshman Graziano, also played in five contests, logging 12 saves and earning a victory in 281 minutes of action.